For the car business, the road ahead will be winding, rocky and fraught with obstacles — much as it has always been.
But with new challenges such as a globally-dispersed supply chain, tightening regulatory controls, geopolitical uncertainties, shifting demographics and increased threats from unexpected competitors, it is also likely to become all but unrecognisable in just a few short years. That’s why automakers are discovering they’ll need reliable partners to ride shotgun on this new, perilous journey into the unknown.
Running on empty
In the past, the automotive market pie was big enough for everyone to have their own slice. A minor feature enhancement such as the introduction of power steering, cruise control or emergency brake assist could ensure that a brand enthusiast remained a lifelong customer. No more. The lines between technology and performance have blurred, so that the latest innovation can mean that an upstart like Tesla, Inc., which is not yet a decade and a half old, recently became the most valuable automaker in the US, while tried-and-true brands such as Pontiac and Oldsmobile have gone to the great car crusher in the sky.
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Remember the venerable retailer Blockbuster’s rapid demise at the hands of upstart Netflix? The same business factors are at play in the auto industry. The days of modest upgrades are over.
Consumers demand more from their cars than ever before, yet, at the same time, the latest “must have” feature can become obsolete, making a new vehicle a “have not” before it even goes into production. One thing is certain: automakers can’t make it by simply making cars anymore. Nor can they go it alone.
Dangerous curves ahead
Innovation in the car industry has become as much a technological problem as a traditional automotive one. Creating value up and down the supply and production chain means people need new skills, better communication and collaboration and powerful predictive analytics to aid in decision making.
Manufacturing and distribution challenges and the corporate memory loss car makers suffered during the last industry downturn have meant car makers increasingly must rely on strategic alliances with tech companies to remain competitive in fast-changing markets. The sector is changing so quickly it’s beginning to look more like Silicon Valley than Detroit.
Technology is only one of the reasons the industry finds itself in this period of upheaval though. Other contributors to the current reinvention include:
The end of the fossil fuel era – Fossil fuels are contributing to a climate crisis for the planet as well as a crisis of conscience for many consumers. Alt-fuels such as electricity are one way automakers are making themselves relevant again.
Geopolitical turmoil – With a supply chain that stretches around the world, business success increasingly depends on being able to react to global crises and political instabilities at a moment’s notice.
Changing demographics – Price-conscious Millennials demand cars that are environmentally friendly and technologically innovative. Catering to them has been a wake-up call for car manufacturers.
It takes a village to compete in today’s car market
Today, automakers must be able to form partnerships “overnight,” depending on ever-shifting, modern demands. For example, when GM realised Millennials were foregoing car purchases and that self-driving vehicles are poised to upend an entire sector of the economy, they turned to a partnership with Lyft to help expand sales and surface new markets.
Likewise, Mercedes-Benz manufacturer Daimler AG recently inked a deal with Uber to include its self-driving vehicles in the ride-hailing networks stable in the coming years. Daimler is also partnering with supplier Bosch to create a brand-new fleet of autonomous taxis that will “increase the attractiveness of ride sharing,” according to both companies.
Meanwhile, Porsche is collaborating with Audi to develop “new vehicle architectures for future mobility,” including autonomous, digital and electronic cars. Porsche has even embarked on a deal to gain visibility by promoting its vehicles virtually in places such as Microsoft’s Xbox popular racing community, ForzaRC.
>See also: The present and future of connected car data
Back in the real world, Henry’s namesake Ford Motor Company is also getting in on the self-driving game. It recently invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence company Argo AI to be the brains behind the autonomous vehicles it plans to bring to the market in 2021. Argo’s founders, Peter Rander and Bryan Salesky are former team leaders from Google and Uber, respectively.
Staying on course with collaboration
Of course, these kinds of partnerships are impossible without a solid technological collaboration chassis to underpin them. Automotive innovators are finding that a collaboration solution can facilitate those new alliances while giving them a much-needed head start on an uncertain future.
A collaboration hub built on people and content identification streamlines processes across all the players by bringing everything together with a common UI. Universal ID and borderless search means work is seamless at any scale—no matter whether people are working together on the same team, across departments or even with partners at every step of the supply chain. A collaboration hub also:
• Breaks down silos across the networked ecosystem, eliminating overlap and redundancies, thus speeding time to market. • Includes predictive analytics that helps leaders visualise interactions throughout the entire networked ecosystem, helping automakers reduce factory energy consumption, optimise resources and identify new opportunities ahead of rivals.
• Increased efficiency means organisations spend more time creating value and less time responding to crises.
A collaboration hub helps companies assemble the right teams throughout every step of the manufacturing process; from ideation and design to production and sales. By capturing all the activity and interaction across multiple organisations’ workgraphs, there’s an unparalleled opportunity to leverage network intelligence to make collaboration deterministic, reducing the “chance” that the wheels will come off those crucial partnerships.
The same visionary spirit that compelled Henry Ford to drag that first Model T across a factory floor on skids in 1913 is alive and well, driving a new generation of innovators to reinvent the automobile for the 21st century and beyond. Even though the industry is changing rapidly, savvy automakers are finding ways to avoid veering off track while, at the same time, increasing new opportunities and adding value for consumers.
Sourced by John Schneider, vice president of Product Strategy at Jive Software
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